Bloomington, Minnesota is most famous for the epitome of consumer decadence known as the Mall of America (the largest shopping mall in the U.S.). But if you’re looking for more connection to outdoors and all the wonderful things Mother Nature has to offer, Bloomington has plenty of quality destinations to meet your needs.
Find an Eco-Friendly Hotel
Image via Flickr by Anthony Arrigo
Although Bloomington is a suburb of the sprawling Twin Cities metropolitan area (Minneapolis and St. Paul), you can still find an eco-friendly hotel for your stay. Three hotels in the Bloomington area have a special “Green Key” certification that measures a location’s environmental, community, cultural, and economic impact: Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Mall of America (averaging $132 a night), Park Plaza (for about $89 a night), and the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel (around $101 a night).
These three hotels offer all the amenities you’d expect from a quality chain hotel with the peace of mind that your stay has a minimal impact on the local environment.
Explore Bloomington’s Natural Beauty
Image via Flickr by Sharon Mollerus
Bloomington is situated in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of Minnesota, and few places showcase that beauty better than the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. With over 11,000 acres of wilderness, the refuge is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna such as bald eagles, wood duck, river otters, and coyotes. There are also tons of trails and recreational areas. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has all the convenience of being within a stone’s throw of a major metropolitan but with more of the kinds of sights an eco-tourist would like to see.
Take a Stroll Through a Garden
Image via Flickr by Michael Hicks
Situated on the campus of Normandale Community College is the Normandale Japanese Garden, a two-acre haven of tranquility. Although the garden doesn’t feature plants native to Japan due to climate differences, there are over 300 plants, shrubs and trees sourced from the state of Minnesota—all planted and maintained true to traditional Japanese horticultural techniques. The garden has been open since 1967 and is open year-round with no charge to its guests (although staff does ask adults to accompany children under 12 years old).
Hit the Slopes
Image via Flickr by Carl Lacey
If you’re looking for a more action-packed taste of the outdoors, the Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area offers the best skiing and snowboarding options Bloomington has to offer. Featuring 10 different slopes ranging from easy to difficult, skiers of all experience levels will get to enjoy zipping around in the slush.
If you don’t have gear or don’t want to bring your own, no problem—the local staff have plenty of rental equipment to cover your needs. And if you’re new to the sport, there are also private and group lessons, so you can pizza and French fry your way to skiing mastery. Be sure to call ahead to see what trails are open.
With plenty of sights and attractions, Bloomington is one of the Midwest’s premier eco-tourism destinations.